There are Eighteen Buddha Attributes, that belong only to a perfectly enlightened Buddha. What are they?

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The Eighteen Unshared Features of a Buddha:

The eighteen features of a Buddha that are not shared with those of lesser attainment – specifically, with shravaka or pratyekabuddha arhats – concern four general aspects of a Buddha: his behavior, realization, enlightening influence (‘ phrin-las, Skt. samudacara, Buddha-activity), and deep awareness.

The Six Unshared Features Grouped under a Buddha’s Behavior

(1) A Buddha’s physical composure can never be ruffled. Wherever he goes and whatever he meets, he is never fooled by appearances. He is always calm and clear.

(2) A Buddha’s enlightening speech never cries out or makes meaningless sounds. No matter what happens, he is never shocked or surprised, and never exclaims anything in anger, pain, or pleasure. Furthermore, a Buddha does not have any melodies, songs, or meaningless phrases compulsively going through his head, and he never mindlessly hums or mutters to himself.

(3) An omniscient Buddha’s enlightening mind never forgets anything or anyone.

(4) There is never a time when his mind is not totally absorbed on voidness.

(5) He never has even the slightest recognition or feeling of anything existing in a way other than the way in which it actually exists. Having rid himself of his cognitive obscurations concerning all knowables, he never experiences his mind giving rise to discordant, deceptive appearances of true existence.

(6) A Buddha is never so indifferent as not to check on others. He always cares about everyone equally and keeps a constant watch to see who is ready to make spiritual progress so as to help him or her accordingly. When someone is ripe, he never forgets to show him or her the way.

The Six Unshared Features Grouped under a Buddha’s Realizations

(7) His intention to help everyone never declines. This is due to the force of his great compassion, as he cares for everyone as a mother would for her only child.

(8) His joyful perseverance to help everyone never declines. He is never reluctant to go anywhere or do anything, even for the sake of one wandering being.

(9) His mindfulness of everyone’s situation never declines. It requires no effort for an omniscient one to be aware of all beings. His awareness is like an enormous clear mirror reflecting the total extent of what exists.

(10) His absorbed concentration never declines. He is always totally focused on voidness, no matter what he does.

In the list of these unshared features given in The Furthest Everlasting Continuum, this feature is omitted and replaced by the fact that the sight of his deep awareness, which is utterly freed from all mental obscuration, never declines.

(11) His discriminating awareness of voidness never declines.

(12) His state of being utterly freed from the two types of mental obscuration never declines.

The Three Unshared Features Grouped under a Buddha’s Enlightening Influence

All the actions of a Buddha’s enlightening (13) physical, (14) verbal, and (15) mental faculties are preceded upon and carried through with deep awareness.

Because he has deep awareness simultaneously of both appearances and their voidness of true existence, he can exert an enlightening influence on everything around him while always maintaining his omniscient awareness.

The Three Unshared Features Grouped under a Buddha’s Deep Awareness

A Buddha’s deep awareness permeates everything, in seeing (16) the time already-passed (‘ das-pa’i dus), (17) the time not-yet-come (ma-‘ongs-pa’i dus), and (18) the time presently-happening (da-lta-ba’i dus), all without any attachment or impediment.

Time is an amount or length of duration measured in the continuum of the occurrence of a karmic causal action and its result, and is a nonconcomitant affecting variable (ldan-min ‘ du-byed) – a nonstatic (impermanent) factor that is neither a form of physical phenomenon nor a way of being aware of something and which is imputable on the mental continuum of a being.

A Buddha has no attachment to what he can see because he has rid himself of all emotional obscuration, and no impediment because he has no cognitive obscuration.

  • 1
    Would you happen to know if non-Buddhas like arahats, bodhisattvas or other noble ones can at least temporarily attain them? Should be possible since the key feature of most in the list is the part about "never declines" and "always".
    – Buddho
    Jun 27, 2015 at 19:54
  • 1
    As far as i know these 18 attributes only appear in a Samma Sambuddha and not in arahants or silent buddhas. I do not know if they can temporarily attain them though. You can also read about it here in "The Fourteen Buddha Knowledges", p. 1166 in "The Great Chronicles of The Buddhas".
    – user2424
    Jun 28, 2015 at 10:36

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